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Alginate-based packaging films - PTS & Berlin-based start-up mujō launch development cooperation

Due to legislative restrictions such as the EU's Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) and the trend towards developing new, bio-economic packaging, natural polymers are increasingly coming to alternatives to conventional fossil plastics. One of these polymers is alginic acid or alginate, which can be extracted from brown algae.

This element of the cell walls, which gives structure to the algae, is able to form flexible and at the same time solid films - even without chemical derivatisation. In paper packaging it can fulfil different tasks. Depending on the formulation and material thickness, barrier coatings on paper are just as conceivable as free-standing films that can be used, for example, as viewing windows in cardboard packaging. At the same time, it is fully SUPD-compliant.

Image 01: Alginate is extracted from brown algae and can be processed into transparent films (from left to right).

In order to advance the use of this exciting substance in the packaging sector, PTS in Heidenau is start-ing a joint development cooperation with the Berlin start-up company mujō. The aim of the work will be to develop packaging products such as films or coated papers with the help of the natural polymer alginate, which is obtained from brown algae.

"mujō has set itself the task of developing recyclable packaging materials that can be thrown away in the existing disposal infrastructure and do not present a danger to nature and humans even in the event of incorrect disposal. We are initially focusing on water-soluble and water-insoluble transparent alginate films as well as alginate-coated barrier papers," says mujō co-founder Annekathrin Grüneberg (photo 02 in the PTS Pilot Plant). To make this a reality, PTS is providing its expertise and pilot plant infrastruc-ture as a development partner. In addition to recipe development and the process-technical production of the materials, the work also focuses on issues such as sealability, barrier optimisation or recyclability. "The development of packaging components made of natural polymers complementary to paper meets the spirit of the times," says PTS Business Division Manager Dr. Martin Zahel. "We are proud to be able to support mujō, a young company with an innovative idea, on its way."

PTS is the leading German research and development institute in the paper value chain and supports companies in developing, researching and transfering fibre based materials and products.



Image 02: mujō co-founder Annekathrin Grüneberg checks a freshly applied alginate coating on the Ja-genberg coater in the PTS Technical Centre.